At last, the big show!
Jamaica’s track & field athletes bow into action today
LONDON, England — The wait for the start of the track and field programme at the XXX Olympiad will end this morning when action kicks off at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford starting at 10:00 am UK time (4:00 am Jamaica time).
Despite Jamaican athletes taking part in four sporting events at the Games, it is the track and field athletes who are expected to provide the medals, notwithstanding the close miss in the women's 100m breaststroke by Alia Atkinson who finished fourth on Monday night after entering the competition ranked 17th.
Anticipation has been building up for several months since the start of the track and field season in late January and the emergence of sprinter Yohan Blake as a legitimate threat to his countryman sprint king Usain Bolt's title has driven up demand for tickets here as well as kindled hot debate as to who will win the men's 100m finals come Sunday night.
Shot putter Dorian Scott will be the first of 15 Jamaicans taking part on what will be a busy first day, which has an all-day rain forecast after relatively great weather for the past two weeks.
Scott, who last competed for Jamaica at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India in 2010 after missing the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea last year due to work commitments, could possibly be the first medal prospect as the men's shot put finals will be held later in the afternoon.
Jamaica's three female 100m sprinters will miss the morning's preliminary rounds but will be in action later in the afternoon along with long jumper Demar Forbes and female discus thrower Allison Randall.
In the morning session, female triple jumpers Kimberly Williams and Trecia Kay Smith, three men's 400m hurdlers and three female 400m runners will all compete in qualifying rounds.
Conditions will be cool, with forecasts calling for temperatures getting as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 58 degrees.
Donald Quarrie, technical leader for the Jamaican track and field team, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the athletes were all “anxious” to start competing.
The athletes would have been well adjusted to the weather conditions here after spending over a week at a pre-Olympic camp in Birmingham before moving to London last week, while most other top sprinters sought warmer and sunny conditions to fine-tune their preparations.
Quarrie said the athletes were “really looking forward to the start of the competition” as despite top-class training conditions both in Birmingham and at the practice track in Olympic Park, he said they could “not wait to get the show on the road”.
Quarrie said he was hoping for “favourable weather conditions” and with a number of events taking place in the evenings when the temperatures tend to dip several degrees, preparations have to be at the very top level.
Usain Bolt, however, the most famous and sought-after athlete here, had said in an interview over a week ago that he was ready to compete in whatever weather conditions existed.
Team manager Ludlow Watts told the Observer he was optimistic going into the competition “that we will do well but we have to recognise there are others here who want to do well too”.
“Based on the preparation we have seen, we should do well, but it comes down to the performance on the day,” he noted.
Defending champion in the 100m, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart and Veronica Campbell Brown will enter the competition in the afternoon following the preliminary rounds where 10 runners will advance to the first round.
Campbell Brown told a press conference two days ago she was ready to go and warned that her indifferent form leading into the Olympics should not be used to judge her current state.
Except for her stumble at the start of the 100m at the Diamond League meeting in London two weeks ago, Fraser-Pryce is in the best form of her life with her new National Record 10.70 seconds at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Trials emphasising the point.